Life as a maths student!

Scarlett Hilson-Wheeler?


Hi! My name is Scarlett and I am a second year Mathematics student at the University of Exeter.

One amazing thing about studying Maths is the opportunity to develop lots of other useful skills outside of the curriculum, particularly coding. Whether you’ve never had any experience at coding before or are a computer whizz, its great fun and an amazing experience for everyone. Timetabled into your schedule are compulsory lab classes where you can work through problem sheets alongside fellow students, with the support of your lecturers and older student volunteers.

In addition to having the opportunity to learn skills outside of Math, such as coding, in your second year of study you will have the option to study some modules in other disciplines. You could reignite an old flame for something you enjoyed at A-level or pick up something completely new, or just do more Maths because you love it so much! For example, you could choose to study a language, and if you choose this language as a module for two consecutive years you could have your degree title amended to “Mathematics with proficiency in advanced Spanish”.

During your first year there are timetabled PAL sessions. This stands for Peer-Assisted Learning. During these sessions small groups of students go through questions with the support of PhD students also studying at the university. Not only do you get help on the content taught during that week of lectures in a more social and friendly environment, but you also gain a deeper understanding of studying Maths at the university from your PAL leader (as they have done the same/a similar degree to you). It’s great to make friends with a wide variety of ages and years during university, as we can all learn from and help each other!

The Maths department has an open door policy, so you can drop in a chat to your lecturer about any concerns you might be having. The department also runs a variety of extra help sessions throughout the week, where you can take questions and go through any problems you are struggling with. Alongside this, there is also a Maths breakfast run once a week, where you not only get free drinks and pastries, but you can chat to your lectures and directors of education about anything at all (not just Maths). This is an amazing thing, that is unique to Exeter, as it allows you to build good relationships with your lecturers and tutors (similar to what you would have experienced at secondary school), truly highlighting that university is a personal experience when studying at Exeter and is what you choose to make of it.

Outside of your studies there is plenty to throw yourself into, and you can do so with other like-minded individuals! For example, you can join the Maths society, and can get involved with a variety of social and educational events to help you become an even better-rounded individual. You can also choose to get active with your course mates by joining one of the netball or badminton teams run by the Maths society. This is a great chance to mix with your peers outside of the lecture hall and make friends for life whilst getting fit!

Many prospective students ask about the jump from A-level to degree level Mathematics, and if they will be at a disadvantage if they haven’t studied Further Maths at A-level. The university’s graduation results show that there is no significant difference for students whom have previously studied Further Maths and those who have not. Alongside this data, when asking current students if they felt at a disadvantage, they did not. This is because during the first term of first year, the Maths department run ‘Foundations’ lectures. These sessions cover Further Maths content, but are open to all students as they aim to bridge the gap between A-levels and university content. It’s safe to say, there is so much support available at the university if you go out and utilise what’s on offer, and everyone is an equal at Exeter regardless of their academic or social background.



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